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Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Learning ASLSK: S1 Retaking Vierville rss

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Jonathan Davis
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Wake Forest
North Carolina
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It occurred to me that this series of session reports would be a valuable resource here to anyone thinking about purchasing ASLSK1 or trying to tackle teaching themselves this game. My plan is to play through the SK1 scenarios, providing an interesting AAR that includes any rules questions I needed to look up, any rules I mistakenly played wrong, and any strategy lessons learned. If people find them useful, then I'll move on to SK2.

[ASL Bio]


First a bit about my SK journey. It started last winter with hearing about the game here on the Geek. I did a little research and stumbled upon this article, "What is ASL?": http://www.vftt.co.uk/whatsasl.pdf. It is an introduction to ASL, that includes a complete but extremely simplified ruleset and a scenario which you can print and play using that ruleset. The whole thing is only 10 pages, including a map and counters. I played the scenario on VASL rather than printing all that out and saw the great potential. (Let me know if you want the scenario file.) I liked the idea of putting myself in a soldier's shoes, running from house to house under fire, watching my buddies panic and flee, following Sgt Bills despite the bullet through his calf.

So I bought SK1 and invested heavily into the rules this past summer. I decided to tackle this feat by creating a detailed, structured outline. let's face it, the ASLSKRB is a full HMG barrage of rules with a few line breaks/tracers interspersed to minimize eye strain. The rules are incomprehensible in this format because it's difficult to see how all the rules relate to one another and interact. This took a long time. A very long time. Once I finished everything but the SW rules, I sat down and completely floundered my way through S1 multiple times. I came across rules questions I couldn't answer and so I read every single thread in the SK1 rules forum here on the geek, and amended my outline accordingly. That also took a long time. During the summer, I tried to teach a couple of friends how to play, but we didn't have a lot of time to invest and I was still struggling through the rules.

I managed to play through S1 legitimately (i.e. I managed to actually finish. There was still plenty of clumsiness though.) one time before the school semester started up again. I didn't touch the game for 4 months. I'm getting myself back into the game for several reasons: 1) the semester is over, and I have a month and a half to solidify my rules understanding before the next semester starts; 2) I want to play in the SK VASLeague for fun and as an intensive way to learn all three SKs (I sure hope they're newbie friendly over there.) So I found an ASL pro here on the geek to show me the ropes of interacting with a human through VASL, and so I can watch him play the tanks in S22. And so now I'm playing the the SK1 scenarios solo to solidify everything.

P.S. I could really use a real FtF opponent in the Triangle area, especially since tanks seem so daunting. I'm always up for a VASL PBeM, no matter your skill level, and I can be convinced to play a live VASL from time to time. If you want somebody to struggle through the rules with, whether FtF or on VASL, then I am your man.

[/ASL bio]

Enough about me already! Here's the low down on S1.
So I really wanted the Germans to win. Swooping into a town and routing out the enemy is way cooler than hanging out in some buildings and shooting at some baddies. I also always root for the underdog. My Turn 1 strategy for the Germans was to hole up the western reinforcements in P1. Their job was to keep the village occupants occupied. The eastern reinforcements holed up in Q6 to foible any plans the US reinforcements might have. A couple of pin results that turn, nothing exciting.

The US turn 1 showed one weakness in the German strategy. If the reinforcements enter at hex V10 (is that a valid entry hex?), the Germans have no LOS, leaving the US to move en masse along the bottom of the board. 6MF is so much nicer than 4MF. Back in the village, the leader took 2 Squads into building M4 to begin a long series of volleys with the Germans in P1. The volley went on for many turns before the US finally was able to break some Germans in Turn 4. The other Squad and Half-squad moved to O6 to try and run a diversion for the future reinforcements.

Things started to heat up in German turn 2 as they entered all their reinforcements into CC with the turn 1 US reinforcements on the south bottom of the board. The melee lasted for several turns, resulting in a complete destruction of the Germans, and nary a scratch plus a brand new 8-0 leader for the Americans. It was pretty much downhill for the Germans after that. The squads in Q6 where slowly whittled away by the waves of US reinforcements, but only after breaking the units in O6, one of them self-rallying the very next turn, creating a 8-1 leader to boot, who then rallied the HS.

Germans turn 3 reinforcements tried to get to the victory hexes by means of the wooded road. They did make it to L3 in turn 5, but with the P1 squads broken and the Q6 squads down to nothing, there was little to stop all of those US troops from moving in, and destroying them in the AFPh, with a few setup to Advance in for CC if that wasn't enough. It was, but they sure did take out a good number of yanks in a blaze of glory.

Some rules I goofed: The first few RPhs, I completely forgot to add in the +4 DM to rally attempts. I frequently messed up the AFPh FPs, sometimes forgetting the underlined FP, sometimes just doing full FP. I'm still trying to figure out if I goofed this one, but I played that a squad could not benefit from a pinned leader's modifier, especially when he's the only one diving into the ditch for cover.

Some rules I needed to look up: Apparently, CX is not a +1 drm for a wound check. You mean my leader who just sprinted 350 yards isn't more apt to bleed to death when he gets a bullet in the shoulder? Also, my MMC in CC/Melee can still field promote one of its men when following the direction of a leader.

Some thoughts on strategy: I really like keeping my men stacked in buildings. Big FP and they all get a nice TEM bonus and leader bonus. I can see how this type of strategy is counter productive to a scenario where aggression is needed. It's nice to snuggle up in the comfort and protection of your stone mansion.

I never used smoke once, because in the very few times it occurred to me to use it, I couldn't envision how it would help. I need to be better about keeping the option of smoke in mind.

Close combat was just a really bad idea for the Germans, and I will be much more hesitating to use it in the future.

Lastly, I've read a few AARs on the ASL forums, and the pros seem to take prisoners quite often. I tried to maneuver in such a way as to cause elimination for failure to route, but I could never quite get it right. They always had one hex to which they could low crawl to "safety".

Lastly, this is more of a metagame strategy, but I found that actually pushing cardboard was a far more valuable use of time than all that work in trying to understand every detail of the rules.
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Mark Buetow
United States
McHenry
Illinois
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Move! Advance! Fire! Rout! Recover! Artillery Denied! Artillery Request! Command Confusion...say what?!
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Great AAR as much for the action as for the ASL learning process. Thanks!
 
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Michael Sosa
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Newark
Delaware
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I will break him.
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I've played ASL SK#1 about half a dozen times now, read the rules 2-3 times, and I'm still not comfortable with all the details. I'm lucky though that there are several ASL players I can play with, but this is one tricky game. I don't know if the rule book could have been done better and for a summary there is the player aid card. Everything put together though it is just hard to digest. I can't imagine how it must be trying to figure out regular ASL! Despite the learning challenges it is currently one of the games I most enjoy.
 
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